Oregonians have responded to the passage of a far-reaching gun-control measure by purchasing more guns than ever.
November saw more firearm background checks conducted in Oregon than any other month in the state’s history, according to the latest FBI data. 91,661 National Instant Criminal Background Checks (NICS) were conducted in the month, roughly triple what the state had been averaging each month in 2022. The state’s previous record for a single month of background checks came in March 2020, when 59,115 checks were processed at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The numbers are just the latest indication that a narrowly-approved gun-control measure has ignited a frenzy of gun buying ahead of its anticipated effective date of December 8. FBI NICS data, while not a perfect one-to-one comparison for several reasons, is a widely-cited proxy for tracking gun sales.
Background check requests for handgun sales surged to nearly 58,000 in November, while long gun requests jumped to almost 27,000. In October 2022, before the measure’s passage, those requests were approximately 18,000 and 11,000, respectively.
Surges in gun sales are not uncommon following the passage of new gun-control laws, but Oregon’s spike has been especially pronounced. That’s likely because the measure’s language bound the state to enforce new permit-to-purchase rules by December 8, before any infrastructure has been put in place to facilitate a new gun permitting system.
Gun owners feared–and had those fears confirmed by the Oregon Department of Justice–that all legal gun sales in the state would be halted indefinitely once the permit requirement took effect. However, a federal judge on Tuesday forestalled that possibility by staying the permitting requirement for at least 30 days. And a state judge blocked the entirety of the law shortly thereafter.
Oregon has already said it plans to appeal the state court ruling, which could bring the law back into effect if successful. In the meantime, Oregonians will likely continue to overrun local firearm dealers.
“The parking lot has been a disaster,” Karl Durkheimer, owner of the Oregon-based Northwest Armory, told Fox News. “The side streets around our place have been a disaster. We’ve been working seven days a week, 12 hours a day for a month.”
The Oregon State Police (OSP) has reported a continued backlog of background checks for firearms sales. It has begun delaying all new requests to help process the “unprecedented volumes of firearms transactions.”
“Since November 8, 2022, the FICS unit has experienced unprecedented volumes of firearms transactions never seen before in the program’s 26-year history,” the agency said in a news release. “OSP continues to work diligently to process and resolve as many of the pended/delayed FICS transactions as possible.”
The delays have been so bad that some local dealers have been releasing firearms to customers after three days, whether or not a background check has been cleared, as allowed by federal law.
“All the people releasing these (firearms) — we’re not happy about this. But we don’t have a choice,” a local dealer told the Oregon Capital Chronicle.
Measure 114 was passed by voters in November with less than a two percent margin. It will require Oregonians to apply for a permit, pass multiple background checks, submit fingerprints, photo ID, proof of firearms training, and pay a $65 fee before being able to purchase guns from a dealer or through private transactions. It also bans the sale and use of commonly-owned ammunition magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds, with limited exceptions.
No less than four separate lawsuits have been filed against the measure by national and state gun-rights advocates, firearms industry representatives, and local law enforcement officials.